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April 2017 Retro Gaming Article

April 6, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Both gaming media and consumers should be demanding better games, not faster consoles

Project Scorpio
The mightiest processor is useless without great games to showcase a console's superiority.
The stats are out on the Xbox Scorpio and the media is having a frenzy as though faster processors will magically make games better. On any system, crappy games with higher frame-rates isn't exactly a win.

In general, hype about faster processors needs to stop. We live in a fantasy where speed is everything and we seem willing to sacrifice quality for more speed. Already folks are talking about how great it will be to play games on the Xbox Scorpio. What games? How many exclusive titles will it have?

A false notion is gaining way too much traction regarding "speed" and "power". These conversations and info are coming from folks who don't know anything about electronics or engineering. Random fans are praising anything with a bigger number in the speed-column.

Game consoles are essentially computers these days. How's your computer running? My PC at work takes 6 minutes to boot up while my Mac at home takes 45 seconds. That's an interesting comparison to me. But on either computer, MS Word runs at the same slow sluggish pace. But let's look at computing in general.

Computers are supposed to double in speed every two years. OK, why do most programs run like an old moped creeping up a steep hill? Shouldn't applications be faster on these super-fast computers? The answer is bad programming. Applications get more and more bloated with every release. There's a direct correlation between hardware that the software designed to run on it.

Like Computers, Consoles Require properly Coded Games

Gamers don't seem to believe in this correlation. Games are the software running on your console - which is a computer. Games, like any software, need to be optimized for the hardware they are to run on. Proof of this comes from watching games evolve over a console's lifespan. At the outset, programmers are not as familiar with the hardware and it's nuances. As they learn the system, we see better, more complex games arriving for the platform.

This concept is alive in the Atari homebrew scene (among others) where programmers are still discovering better ways to execute code on an Atari 2600! And this knowledge shows in the way their games play and the complexity of each game.

So, when Microsoft releases specs for Scorpio, let's not be duped into thinking it will be great simply because of a chip. It needs great exclusive games! Great games make a console great. For all the stories about the Wii U being under-powered, it's game play was spectacular! Isn't that what we want - spectacular games? Great games evolve from spectacular programming! Fast chips are secondary at best.

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